Reapplicant advice

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DOCOC15

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PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE THIS MESSAGE

  1. cGPA and sGPA as calculated by AMCAS or AACOMAS - 3.84. (4.0 postbacc)
  2. MCAT score(s) and breakdown- 517
  3. State of residence or country of citizenship (if non-US)- CA
  4. Ethnicity and/or race - white
  5. Undergraduate institution or category - good non-Ivy
  6. Clinical experience (volunteer and non-volunteer) - a bit over 200 hours as a caregiver
  7. Research experience and productivity- undergrad thesis in social sciences
  8. Shadowing experience and specialties represented- 60 hours, ortho/primary care/IP psych
  9. Non-clinical volunteering - 120 hours at covid clinic, 30 hours soup kitchen (ongoing/ramping up more), 100 from undergrad
  10. Other extracurricular activities (including athletics, military service, gap year activities, leadership, teaching, etc)- I'm a non-trad applicant. I used to work in a software development/customer service role, and have returned to it during this application year.
  11. Relevant honors or awards
  12. Anything else not listed you think might be important

I applied this cycle and only received one interview (no decision yet), so I'm starting to plan a reapplication. I met with someone from one of the schools I applied to to get feedback on my application. The advice sort of boiled down to "not enough clinical experience" except it's not clear to me whether it's not enough raw hours, or that my essays reflecting on my clinical experience were bad.

My work as a caregiver gave me a lot of hands-on experience where I got to directly care for my patient and form a real relationship. When the advisor was telling me I needed clinical experience, she framed it around using the clinical experiences to learn about yourself and develop core competencies for medical school, rather than it being about raw number of hours worked. I truly believe my experience was great in terms of helping me learn about caring for others, providing direct care, and helping me decide that medicine is a good career choice for me. I think my essay on it was not very good though.

My questions are around whether to reapply this coming cycle (assuming I don't get in) vs taking an extra year to get more clinical volunteering. I finished my postbacc last Spring and spent the summer studying for/taking the MCAT and doing applications. Since the Fall I've been working in tech again and volunteering at my local soup kitchen, but haven't gained any more clinical experience. I'm hoping to start clinical volunteering this month, but don't have it set up yet.

Should I wait a year to reapply so I can have a larger number of clinical hours? Can I get enough from March-May that it will make a difference, or is it too late for this coming cycle? I know that when schools look at reapplicants they want to know "what's different?" Can the biggest difference be better essays/better self reflection, or does it need to be significantly more clinical/volunteering hours, which would require an extra year?

Thanks

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I am sure you gained a lot of insight as a caregiver, but you should get experience where you are not as invested emotionally. Doctors can't perform procedures on their family members, especially when very challenging decisions are involved. As a nontrad career changer, observations of what doctors do is important.

Are the 60 hours of shadowing related to caregiving?

About your service orientation competency, where is it in your nonclinical community service with "100 hours as an undergrad"?
 
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As a career changer, more clinical experience would be helpful, especially in a more traditional setting. One of the biggest mistakes reapplicants make is applying again immediately instead of taking a cycle to address weaknesses in their app. It would be hard for you to gain anything significant in the next few months if you have to commit to a full-time job.
 
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I am sure you gained a lot of insight as a caregiver, but you should get experience where you are not as invested emotionally. Doctors can't perform procedures on their family members, especially when very challenging decisions are involved. As a nontrad career changer, observations of what doctors do is important.

Are the 60 hours of shadowing related to caregiving?

About your service orientation competency, where is it in your nonclinical community service with "100 hours as an undergrad"?

The caregiving wasn't with family, it was a part-time job. I think my emotional involvement was reasonable (we got along well but it was all professional)

The shadowing was with physicians at a couple different local hospitals (one academic, one rural). Unrelated to caregiving.

The undergrad volunteering was leading a group that offered opportunities for other student groups (fraternities, clubs, etc) to have easy access to community service. We would organize and take groups to do community service projects at local off-campus halfway houses/soup kitchens/etc. It was half and half leadership/volunteering since I'd lead the service trips, but I also helped with the organizing. Honestly, it was a long time ago so I don't know if it really has anything to do with my desire to go into medicine, it was just something nice I did in college.
 
As a career changer, more clinical experience would be helpful, especially in a more traditional setting. One of the biggest mistakes reapplicants make is applying again immediately instead of taking a cycle to address weaknesses in their app. It would be hard for you to gain anything significant in the next few months if you have to commit to a full-time job.
Thanks. Can you clarify what you mean by "gain anything significant?" Is that in terms of number of hours I can put in on top of working full time? Or do I need to show a commitment longer than a few months? Or is it unlikely that I can learn anything about myself to reflect upon in essays in only a few months?


Are there downsides to reapplying immediately other than the time/cost associated with reapplication? As in, would a failed second application cycle reduce my chances of getting in with a third application?
 
Thanks. Can you clarify what you mean by "gain anything significant?" Is that in terms of number of hours I can put in on top of working full time? Or do I need to show a commitment longer than a few months? Or is it unlikely that I can learn anything about myself to reflect upon in essays in only a few months?


Are there downsides to reapplying immediately other than the time/cost associated with reapplication? As in, would a failed second application cycle reduce my chances of getting in with a third application?
All of the reasons you suggested. They are inter-related.

Schools often keep your application and will compare it. It would not reflect well on you if you did not improve significantly and are applying a 3rd time.

For more insight, see Miami Miller’s discussion on the subject of reapplication:

 
All of the reasons you suggested. They are inter-related.

Schools often keep your application and will compare it. It would not reflect well on you if you did not improve significantly and are applying a 3rd time.

For more insight, see Miami Miller’s discussion on the subject of reapplication:


So if I were to, hypothetically, do clinical volunteering for 10 hours a week until reapplying at the end of May, I could have 100 hours. Is the timeline of March-May still a dealbreaker?

I understand that I could do a lot more by taking an extra year, but I'm an older applicant and taking another year is extremely expensive. I think it would be foolish to not at least seriously consider reapplying next cycle.

And just to be clear- when you talk about an "improved application" it's about increasing the number of activity hours, correct? So improving my essays without additional hours doesn't count as "improvement" in the eyes of an admissions committee?
 
So if I were to, hypothetically, do clinical volunteering for 10 hours a week until reapplying at the end of May, I could have 100 hours. Is the timeline of March-May still a dealbreaker?

I understand that I could do a lot more by taking an extra year, but I'm an older applicant and taking another year is extremely expensive. I think it would be foolish to not at least seriously consider reapplying next cycle.

And just to be clear- when you talk about an "improved application" it's about increasing the number of activity hours, correct? So improving my essays without additional hours doesn't count as "improvement" in the eyes of an admissions committee?
You have deficiencies with your non-clinical volunteering as well. As a CA applicant, your in-state options are all competitive, with the only heavily mission driven schools being Loma Linda and UCR. Where did you interview at and how many schools did you apply to?

I know you want to start med school as soon as possible but that does not line up with what admissions is looking for. A lot more of the matriculated students are older with extensive experiences. Gaining additional hours within the next few months and adding DO schools would likely work, but I feel you probably want your best chance possible at MD.

I suggest all reapplicants work on their essays and ensure they at least update them. It will be hard to move the needle without additional experiences since most of what you have done outside the classroom is the caretaker work with the 1 patient.
 
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The caregiving wasn't with family, it was a part-time job. I think my emotional involvement was reasonable (we got along well but it was all professional)

Thank you for clarifying this, and I presume this was also made clear to screeners. This was something you did for a year, under clinical employment?

The shadowing was with physicians at a couple different local hospitals (one academic, one rural). Unrelated to caregiving.

The undergrad volunteering was leading a group that offered opportunities for other student groups (fraternities, clubs, etc) to have easy access to community service. We would organize and take groups to do community service projects at local off-campus halfway houses/soup kitchens/etc. It was half and half leadership/volunteering since I'd lead the service trips, but I also helped with the organizing. Honestly, it was a long time ago so I don't know if it really has anything to do with my desire to go into medicine, it was just something nice I did in college.
Community service is desired for most medical school students. I'm good if you got some as an undergraduate, but have you done anything since graduating?
 
Thank you for clarifying this, and I presume this was also made clear to screeners. This was something you did for a year, under clinical employment?


Community service is desired for most medical school students. I'm good if you got some as an undergraduate, but have you done anything since graduating?

Yes, caregiving was listed as clinical employment for one academic year while taking all the science classes I didn't do in undergrad.

The 100 hour community service leadership thing was from undergrad 7 years ago. The main reason I included it on my app was that it was community service that I did before ever thinking about going into medicine. Figured it could show something actually altruistic that I did without ulterior motives.

The vaccine clinic was during my post-bacc, the soup kitchen is during this application year.

Where was your interview ?
UVM. I'm honestly concerned it might just be a courtesy interview though since my dad went there. Do you have any advice on turning that into an acceptance this year?


From my conversation with the admissions advisor from the in-state school I was rejected from, it sounds like my application was borderline for getting an interview, but it was the clinical experience that held me back. When she described what they were looking for from clinical experience, my caregiving experience fit the bill, but I didn't express myself well in my essay about it.
 
Yes, caregiving was listed as clinical employment for one academic year while taking all the science classes I didn't do in undergrad.

The 100 hour community service leadership thing was from undergrad 7 years ago. The main reason I included it on my app was that it was community service that I did before ever thinking about going into medicine. Figured it could show something actually altruistic that I did without ulterior motives.

The vaccine clinic was during my post-bacc, the soup kitchen is during this application year.


UVM. I'm honestly concerned it might just be a courtesy interview though since my dad went there. Do you have any advice on turning that into an acceptance this year?

From my conversation with the admissions advisor from the in-state school I was rejected from, it sounds like my application was borderline for getting an interview, but it was the clinical experience that held me back. When she described what they were looking for from clinical experience, my caregiving experience fit the bill, but I didn't express myself well in my essay about it.
UVM: did you ask them for feedback (if it is not your state school)?

I concur that what you do lately is viewed with more attention. Increasing clinical experience and getting more soup kitchen experience will certainly allay the concerns in that area.
 
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